HOW TO TALK ABOUT THINGS THAT DON’T EXIST | Program in Time [Serralves Museum, Porto]

The presentation at Serralves features a specially curated programme of discussions, the program in timean extensive public programme developed by the Biennial’s team of curators together with the Education Department of the Serralves Museum. This programme will unfold at three major moments and is founded on an exhaustive research carried out by the Biennial’s curators in Porto and Lisbon, where they met with young artists, activists and researchers and visited artist-run spaces, universities and art cooperatives. 

03 OCT 2015

The symposium ‘On Education – Art and participatory education’ will begin with an exploration of the strategies of the education and mediation programme in the 31st São Paulo Biennial and move out from there to wider art education issues. Education within a mega-exhibition with a huge visitor base demands different kinds of approaches yet nevertheless strives to provide meaningful encounters for people with art and the public exhibition. The symposium will attempt to analyse the success of different educational strategies in terms of engagement and experimentation. In particular, education will be discussed in the light of the complex and pluralistic tradition of radical education, including the diverse legacies of Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich and Henry Giroux. 

Is it possible for biennials and/or museums to learn from this radical education tradition that is anti-hierarchical, politically engaged and participatory? Given that its intentions are closely related to the struggles of the poor and powerless for equality and rights, how can art institutions shape their programmes to take account of its potential? How can its critique of traditional education practice be implemented in art exhibition programmes? The symposium will examine both the regular education programme developed by the São Paulo Biennial Foundation and other strategies developed by participating artists and curators that attempted different ways to address communities and urban cultures.

With: By Fábio Cypriano, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de SP and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil), Graziela Kunsch, Urbânia magazine (Brazil), Alessandro Petti, Architect (Palestine/ Italy), Contrafilé, Artists (Brazil) and Cayo Honorato, Professor and researcher in Art and Education (Brazil). Moderation: Liliana Coutinho


31 OCT 2015

The economic crisis in Portugal has sent the Portuguese to the shores of former colonies in search of employment, as evidenced in a number of articles circulated in the international press over the last years. At the same time, investments from Brazil and Angola are becoming increasingly important to the Portuguese economy. A common expression among the Portuguese is ‘we’re being colonized after 500 years by them’, referring to such investments in the Portuguese economy. While it is true that wealthy, politically powerful Angolans have been buying up parcels of Portuguese companies, this does not equal colonization by a long shot. Angolans are not, for example, creating settler colonies in Portugal, or changing the nature and character of local institutions of education, government and culture.

Considering ‘Reverse Colonialism’ means taking the centre of attention away from Portugal or Europe and placing it in two particular former colonies, Angola and Brazil. In this process, the needs and histories of Angola and Brazil need to be understood  at least as much as the economic decline of Portugal. These two colonies were indeed the jewel in the Portuguese imperial crown and their relationships with Portugal were never straightforwardly economic. For hundreds of years Portugal might have exploited the former colonies through the slave trade, forced labour and unequal terms of trade, but it also invested its identity and fantasies in these places. The symposium will look at the contemporary artistic understandings of the colonial link, both at the level of art production and institutional development.

With: José Neves (PT), Lígia Afonso (PT), Manuela Ribeiro Sanches (PT), Filipa César (PT) Moderator: Marta Lança (PT)


12 DEC 2015

This symposium will be the third in the ‘Right to the City’ series that began during the course of the 31st São Paulo Biennial. ‘Right to the City’ will continue its investigation into the hostile language and militarized management of urban spaces that are visible in globalized cities everywhere today. It will debate the meanings and effects of the security-driven logic that rules the management of cities and their spaces, populations, manners and movements. While the evidence is plentiful, the nexuses that articulate the government of security, the government of urban spaces and the strategies of privatisation of public space still remain to be understood as strategies of power, violence and production of markets. 

In Serralves, the aim of the project is to discuss the connections between urban development and citizens’ rights in both Brazil and Portugal. We will analyse current crowd control politics regarding the criminalization of the poor and the militarization of the police in both Brazilian and Portuguese cities. The symposium brings together artists, activists and academics from Portugal and Brazil.

After the conversation, we will screen a documentary by the Brazilian director, Rodrigo Siqueira. Entitled “Orestes”, this is his second feature documentary for cinema – his debut feature documentary, Terra deu, terra come (The Earth gave, the earth eats), was Brazil’s most highly awarded documentary in 2010/2011.

“Orestes” is an adaptation to the Brazilian reality of the homonymous Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus in 485. C. Using a series of psychodramas, the film creates a dialogue between two moments in Brazil’s history: the military dictatorship of the 1970s, which has left deep marks on the official narratives and the subjectivity of Brazilians, and police violence which, according to Siqueira, characterizes the present political climate. A hybrid work between tragedy and documentary, the film develops around the trial of Orestes, who killed his own father – an agent of the military dictatorship who had infiltrated the resistance movements – 37 years after seeing him kill his mother. A crime of passion? A political crime? What is the distance between justice, truth and collective subjectivity? Orestes is the starting point for many questions.

With: Carolina Christoph Grillo (Brazil), José António Pinto (Portugal), Luís Fernandes (Portugal), Virgílio Borges Pereira (Portugal) Moderation: Amarante Abramovici (Portugal) 

‘‘How to (…) things that don’t exist – an exhibition developed out of the 31st São Paulo Biennial’ is curated by Galit Eilat, Charles Esche, and Oren Sagiv, assisted by Serralves curators Ricardo Nicolau and Paula Fernandes,  and organized by the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo in collaboration with the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto. The exhibition in São Paulo was additionally curated by Galit Eilat, Charles Esche, and Oren Sagiv, Nuria Enguita Mayo and Pablo Lafuente with associate curators Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença.

Support: Ministry of Culture of Brazil.